Steam Trains and Wine

While spending a few days in the Alsace wine region, famous for its Cremants d’Alsace, its Rieslings, its Gewurztraminers and its Pinot Gris. I couldn’t help thinking how different the latter is in Alsace from its Italian counterpart of the same Grape varietal. Much sweeter and fruitier. As a whole, wines produced around Colmar and the surrounding plains tend to be on the sweet side – good aperitif wines.

My hosts invited me to a Sunday afternoon ride on a steam train from Volgelsheim. I was reminded of the steam train at Tua during last year’s Douro Wine Tour. There really is something Anthropomorphic or at least Zoomorphic about a steam engine. It is not surprising that the Rev Audrey created his Thomas the Tank Engine characters.

Our own Thomas the Tank engine pulled us along noisily, punctuating the rhythm of the clattering sleepers with owl-like hoots at every bend while the fireman urged Thomas on in his huffing and puffing of clouds of steaming, coal-pungent, breath. At level-crossings the shrill ringing of warning bells joined in like an extra instrument coming in to play in a band.

 Steam trains feel totally in place in wine growing areas where land and nature, inanimate objects and human artefacts all get impregnated with the human passion of the winegrowers. Spectacular wines come from such regions – In the case of the land around Tua, Port and unfortified wines from the same Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca

grapes that make port.

In the case of the land around Colmar, Cremants d’Alsace and Gewurztraminer. I had a St Petersbourg Cremant d’Alsace the other day. If I was not told, I would not be able to distinguish it from Champagne.